Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 11 2011

Plus Point.

One of my favorite graphic design professors used to use “plus point” as his form of positive reinforcement. I am exhausted, exhausted, but want to document my plus points from the past few days, before I lose them.

Plus Point 1

On Friday I received the entire Hunger Games series to my classroom door, and had all three books checked out within 2 hours. It only took that long because at first I wanted to hold onto them for the weekend to put them officially into my classroom library (AKA excel sheet and label reading level and AR points), then I realized it was ridiculous to prevent my kids from reading.
Today we got the entire Narnia series, and I’m not even sure who sent this. It came by itself from Amazon, so whoever sent it: THANK YOU. What happened when I opened the box? All seven books were checked out within ten minutes. My kids were begging and yelling about each book. They might have been a little caught up in the excitement, but they were excited to read!

Plus Point 2

Major contrast: Slow Student. My Slow Student is in my homeroom class, and is on medication that makes him incredibly slow for the first half of the day. I consistently mistook “slow” for “low” the first seven weeks of the year. Then his mom came to conferences and explained that Dad died three years ago, and Slow Student hasn’t been the same since. He’s slow because of his anti-depressants. Ohhh..
Slow Student asked to move to the front row last week, which I allowed, and ever since has been answering every question (RIGHT), and smiling and participating. Before this, Slow Student answered “I don’t know” to almost everything (or just “no”), would not silent read when the class did, and failed almost every assignment.

On Friday I asked Slow Student what his favorite book was. He said he didn’t know. I asked him his favorite book ever, any grade, any kind of book, he said, “I don’t like chapter books.” “Why?” shrug. “Because they’re too hard?” he nodded at me.

I went to Little Rock Saturday on a mission: find him a book. I thought about the used book store, being awesome, but ended up at Barnes and Noble, where I bought three 2nd-4th grade level chapter books about sports. Slow Student loves sports.

During bathroom break today I pulled aside Slow Student, while I was holding the three books. Before I could say, “This is a chapter book, but it’s not hard or scary” he took a book out of my hand and asked if he could check it out. He immediately started reading it, and I had to ask him to put it away?! And by the end of the day he finished 32 pages of it. Slow Student, WHAT THE HECK! You were so worth the $14 it cost to buy those three books, and I am so glad I bought three and not one.

Plus Point 3

I was feeling particularly unmotivated on Sunday, but when I got home from Little Rock I opened my email to find this from a first year, writing-only, Corps Member in Mississippi that I’ve been sporadically communicating with:

Hey Caroline,

I just wanted to say thank you for all your help and support. Your lesson plans have been SO helpful! I’ve been using them since the last pro-sat and they have made my life so much easier! I think you do a really great job of breaking writing down for the kids and really getting them to understand the writing process. Two of my roommates also teach writing, and I forwarded them the link to your planning dropbox because I found it to be such a wonderful resource. Let me know if that is a problem. Thanks again for all your help! I really, really, really like working off your lesson plans and think that my students will definitely benefit from the structure you have created.
MOTIVATION RETURNED.

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